Saturday, 21 November 2015

4 minutes and 52 seconds of joy

I really like the song 'Uptown Funk', as it is so up beat, so when Chris found this video on Youtube, including many great dancers including Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, The Nicholas brothers and even Laurel and Hardy, I knew I had to share it.  Brilliantly edited and great fun!  Enjoy!  (If you put 'closed captions' on, you'll see the name and year of the films used too.)

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Tulip planting for Spring

Even though it is very mild for the time of year, I decided that I needed to plant my tulips for next Spring.  It is a positive thing to do, as it shows that eventually Winter will end (although it hasn't started yet...)  So, I set to and planted my tulips in pots and tubs.  This year, I have bought:
Princess Irene (the first four photos are from Peter Nyssen's website), to continue my enjoyment of orange in the garden...
 Tulip Negrita which is supposed to be slightly fragrant...
 Tulip China Pink which looks very elegant..
 and Tulip Ronaldo which I have grown before and is a lovely deep purple/black.
Tulip Upstar (photo from vanengelen) was part of my Seasons swap gift, and these have gone into a pot at the front door.
 Of course, I have planted more Ballerina, because it is my favourite tulip and it is beautifully scented. (I haven't got any Red Shine this year - you can see one sneaking into the photo above from my tulips last Spring).
 The mild weather is encouraging some plants to keep flowering.  Above is Rose Blue Eyes (more purple than blue, it has to be said, but very pretty nonetheless), flowering away last week.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Remembrance Sunday

 Here in the UK it is Remembrance Sunday where we take time to remember all those who have been injured or killed in war.  I thought it was appropriate to share my polymer clay poppy brooches, which I have been wearing this week.  I used a mould to create the shape, then highlighted the petals with acrylic paint and added some black glitter to the centres.  I did make a donation to the Poppy Fund, even though I wasn't wearing one of their poppies.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

(from For the Fallen by by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Autumn colours

On the last day of October, there are some lovely colours to be seen in the garden.  The star at the moment just has to be the blueberries - Goldtraube and Northland which has the most glorious autumnal shades in their leaves.

 Just beautiful.
 However, there are still the vestiges of summer too, as can be seen by geranium Rozanne...
 ...and a clematis, Princess Diana.
Inside, Chris has been busy with his jam and chutney making and this beautiful orange-coloured jelly is made from crab apples, with a hint of lavender.
The lights just didn't do justice to the golden tones.  He is also making quince jam/jelly at the moment too.  Autumn colour is all around me at the moment!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Goodbye Ginny

We had to say goodbye to our much beloved elderly cat, Ginny, on Monday evening.  She had various medical issues and we had to let her go.  She had been with us for twenty-one years, but may have been about twenty-two.
 Here she is when she first chose to come and live with us.  She actually belonged to a neighbour, but decided she liked our house better!
 She decided that the nativity scene was missing just one thing - a large ginger and white cat!
 She enjoyed being out in the garden, especially if we were out there too.
 She sometimes thought she was a ninja cat...
...and found lots of places to hide.
 She liked helping with jobs in a supervisory capacity - here she was checking that the patio slabs were being laid correctly.
 She also supervised my planting schedule each year.

She bravely ventured out in the snow (this photo does remind me of illustrations in Beatrix Potter's 'The Tailor of Gloucester').
Simpkin in the snow illustration from The Tailor of Gloucester - The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter F. Warne & Co 1989
Simpkin in the snow illustration from The Tailor of Gloucester – 
The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter F. Warne & Co 1989

This large pot was her favourite place to sit in the garden.
She was very photogenic.
Here's the last photo of her that I took, sleeping on her cosy blanket, on her favourite chair.  Sleep well, Ginny and thank you for all the joy and companionship you brought us.  We'll miss you.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Sew Saturday

I was catching up with some blog reading when I saw this on one of them (Lazy Daisy Jones
I popped along to the website to find out more and this is what is was all about:

Sew Saturday is a celebration of the independent fabric store and haberdasher, it's a way of showing some love for your local bricks and mortar stores. There's set to be a wide range of special events happening across the country, including star appearances from leading names in the industry to workshops, make & takes, discounts and competitions. It’s a great day to go along and support your local participating shop!

This year, it was on Saturday 17th October.  I checked whether there were any participating shops nearby and there were, so I headed off to investigate. On my way there, I went over a rather high pedestrian bridge, which, in hindsight, wasn't the best plan as I don't have much of a head for heights.
It did give me a nice view of the Cathedral though.
Fabric Corner hasn't been open all that long and I kept going past it on my way to work and thinking I really must make the effort to go there.  Sew Saturday gave me the perfect opportunity! The owner also has a material stall at the local inside market, but she said this shop became available and it was too good an opportunity to miss.  There is space for workshops and a cafe next door too.  Inside was an Aladdin's cave of goodies and on Sew Saturday, there was money off some designer Christmas materials and ribbons, and lots of other good deals to be had.
You knew that I would be buying, didn't you?  I bought some designer Christmas fabric for bunting and other projects, a fat quarter pack with the colours I need for a current project and a piece of turquoise spotty fabric, also for a current project.  As I spent a certain amount, I was given a rather nice shopper bag too. The shop was quite busy when I was there and I hope it was a successful day for them.  I hope that Sew Saturday might be an annual event. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Camera shenanigans

(Just in passing, I really like the word 'shenanigans').  I have been having some problems with my camera recently.  It is a little point and shoot Kodak M23 which has been really reliable, easy to use and takes lovely photos.  I am not a photographer by any means (although I do enjoy taking photos) and need something easy to use.  My camera still takes good pictures, but the computer bit inside (you guessed it, I am not au fait with technology) decided to go completely mad and not do anything I wanted it to.  In fact, although I told it not to, it decided to delete all 340 photos on my memory card, much to my horror.  You know that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach - well, I definitely had that.  Once I realised that, luckily, I had saved most of the photos onto my computer, it wasn't so bad.  However, I decided that a new camera purchase should be made.
I did my research, waded through loads of reviews, got completely baffled as I trawled through all sorts of technical descriptions and then I bought this one, a Sony W800:
photo from
It was like my old Kodak, in that it was small and would fit in my pocket.  However, once I had charged it up and tried it, I found that there was a delay between clicking the shutter button and it actually taking a photo.  This wasn't great as I do like taking the odd photo of wildlife now and again.  I also found it took a while to bring the photos into focus on the screen.  Whether this was a problem with just this particular camera, or across the range,  I wasn't sure, but I knew it wasn't the one for me, so took it back.
I have now bought this one (another Kodak - FZ201 - but a little bit bigger and with more zoom than my previous one). 
image from
I have been having a practise with it in the garden...
 I rescued this little cyclamen from being swamped by a self-seeded astrantia and verbena bonariensis.
It looks much happier now.
 I challenged the camera with a back-lit blueberry branch.  I think it managed pretty well.
 Deep shade and brilliant sunshine (and the shadow of my arm!).
 Using the zoom...
 ...and again...
 ...and again.
 Beautiful cosmos flowers (they were really late to flower this year).
 My favourite aster 'Little Carlow', which helpfully tells the bees which flowers have been pollinated (they are the ones with the reddish centres).
 Magnolia Susan with buttery yellow leaves against a blue autumn sky.
 Vivid pink aster 'September Ruby'. That colour just sings out, doesn't it?
Finally, my replacement hanging basket, still flowering and looking good (until the first frosts come, which can't be too far away now).
So far, I am really pleased with my new camera.  I hope it lasts for a good few years.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Seasons swap - Wow!

 I do enjoy a good blog swap, as my lovely followers will know, so when I saw the Seasons Swap, organised by Kimberley of Creative Chaos, I signed up.  It was a great idea - find out your swap partner's favourite season and then buy and make things to send them.  I was partnered up with Maria, from Dotty's Daughter .  We emailed and found out that we are scarily similar, even down to our ages!  Maria told me that she didn't have a favourite season and I responded that early Summer was my favourite.  So, armed with some information, we started shopping and making.  Our parcels were swapped and I received the parcels above.
 I opened them to find a plethora of gorgeous gifts.  Maria had been so generous!  Flowery bunting, tulips, felt squares, felt flower pegs, a heart decoration, buttons, a gardening themed scissor fob and a personalised patchwork pincushion with sewing charms,
 The patchwork pincushion deserved its own photo.
 Bunting, buttons, hearts and flowers...
...and the gardening scissor fob, complete with welly!  I emailed to thank her and received a lovely reply, but she also said that she had forgotten to add in another part of the parcel so that would be sent too. Lucky me - two parcels!
 Here's what was in parcel two.  Lots of sewing goodies including needles, pins, ribbon and some patchwork for me to start.  There were also seeds and a dragonfly bracelet, some cat clips and some angel decorations made by her daughter.
 Here are the angels - aren't they lovely?
 Here's my patchwork project for the autumn evenings...  A HUGE thank you to Maria for her amazing generosity, thoughtfulness and kindness and for being such a lovely swap partner.  As I was opening my parcels, it did strike me how we had sent similar types of things.
Here's what I sent: Spring (magnets, seeds, a scissor fob/keyring/bag charm and bird material), Summer (a mug, magnet pegs, some sewing machine material and a piece of the London material, (which I used to make a doorstop for my friend in Canada) as she used to live in London), Autumn (hot chocolate, a spiced candle, a notebook and some pens) and Winter (a felt heart, monochrome bracelet and earrings).
It was a marvellous swap to be involved with and I really enjoyed it.  Thanks to Kimberley for organising it and of course, to Maria.